Blaming the move on changing times, WYES-TV has laid off eight staffers in its production, engineering and auction offices and has ended three on-air auctions that once pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the nonprofit PBS affiliate’s operations.
The layoffs leave about 31 full-time employees on staff, said Allan Pizzato, the station’s president and general manager.
The decision to cut the positions and end the Showboat Auction, wine auction and art auction was necessary to line up costs with expenditures, he said.
“Nobody really wanted to do this, believe me,” Pizzato said.
The station’s board of directors made the decision last Wednesday to proceed with the layoffs.
The employees who are losing their jobs were given two weeks’ notice, severance pay and will be paid for any unused vacation, Pizzato said. It was not required for the employees to stay and work the whole two weeks if they did not want to, he said.
While he could not provide a breakdown of what departments the staff let go worked in, Pizzato said most were in the office that organized the auctions. The others were in production and had roles related to the auctions, and a “few” came from the engineering department.
“It has not been easy,” Pizzato said. “These have all been really great people.”
The station holds regular pledge drives to raise money for the station, but the auctions always brought in the most money, he said. In recent years, though, the cost to put on the events outweighed the benefits as fewer dollars flowed in. Pizzato said viewers today have too many options about where to find items they might want.
While the auctions will no longer air on Channel 12, Pizzato said the station is exploring ways to hold auctions in some form, though he did not offer specifics. “It’s not that the auction will go 100 percent away,” he said.
Whatever form the auctions take in the future, Pizzato said he hopes that the volunteers who have long donated their time to the former on-air auctions will continue to do so.
“We still have other opportunities for people to work with us,” he said. “We hope they’ll stick with us.”
Pizzato said he doesn’t believe more layoffs will be needed down the road.
“I am not expecting any more of this in the future,” he said. “We’re going to be reallocating our resources and looking to create new revenue.”